Monday, November 29, 2010

Near Focaccia Disaster

I would have taken a picture of the focaccia I made tonight, but I'm too irritated with the results. Three hours of kitchen time on a work night, and I seriously thought about tossing the bread and pan in the trash.

The recipe came from the America's Test Kitchen cookbook, and it involved using a russet potato and making the dough from scratch. The dough was quite sticky and a little difficult to work with, but everything smelled right while it was in the oven. Then I pulled it out of the oven after 20 minutes of baking time.

It was stuck to the pan.

Well, not all of it was stuck, but certainly the sides and edges were. The middle part was fine, and so I realize that either I should use a smaller baking pan or take it out earlier.

Turns out that it tasted good, so a complete and total disaster was averted.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Another Baby Blanket

My friends had a baby boy four months ago, and as usual, I lagged on the gift. The "inspiration" I needed to make the blanket came when I found out that they would be in the Bay Area during Thanksgiving weekend.

Here is a full view of the blanket. I love the blue and brown together.

Monday, November 22, 2010

My First Bunny Hat

I finally made a bunny hat! It was made using Dark Horse FA-30 Hot Pink Yarn. This was my first go-around with this brand of yarn, which is 50% Nylon and 50% Acrylic.

The Dark Horse Fantasy yarn line is quite soft, which make it quite nice; but it's also quite slippery.

The ears aren't perfect, but I don't think that rabbit's have perfectly symmetrical ears in real-life...hopefully my sister doesn't mind. We'll see how they do in a photo shoot.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Baby Pods (Formerly Known as Cocoons)

In case you are interested in seeing what my baby pods (a.k.a. "cocoons") look like with a baby in them, visit my sister's blog to see them in a photo shoot. You can see more of them if you view the slide show!

Hopefully these will begin making an appearance on my very own Etsy page sometime in the near future. If I only I could find the time to build up inventory!

For now, just check out Mindy Metivier Photography online.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Gumbo for Sunday Dinner

A couple of weeks ago I tried making jambalaya. It was not so good. I then realized that I really wanted to make gumbo. Really, I've been wanting the gumbo at The Kingfish Cafe in Seattle, but that's just too far away. It was time to give it a go in my own kitchen.

The recipe I used came from Paula Dean. Seth liked it, as did my co-worker, but I'm not quite sure how I felt about it. The one at The Kingfish Cafe is just so good.

The recipe itself was pretty easy; although it is time consuming. It makes for some tasty comfort food. A couple of notes on the ingredients:
  • Instead of smoked sausage, I used Louisiana hot links, but if you like spicy, go for Andouille sausage.

  • The recipe calls for margarine, but I only had butter. It turned out fine with butter
One more thing, the picture above lacks the shrimp. I did not add the shrimp until the last moment because I didn't want to mix it into the gumbo itself. The recipe makes way too many servings (eight to ten) for the two of us to eat before shrimp goes bad.

by Paula Dean

  • 3 large boneless skinless chicken breast halves

  • Salt and pepper

  • 1/4 C vegetable oil

  • 1 lb. smoked sausage, cut into 1/4-inch slices

  • 1/2 C all-purpose flour

  • 5 T margarine

  • 1 large onion, chopped

  • 8 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped

  • 3 stalks celery, chopped

  • 1/4 C Worcestershire sauce

  • 1/4 bunch flat leaf parsley, stems and leaves, coarsely chopped, plus chopped leaves for garnish

  • 4 C hot water

  • 5 beef bouillon cubes

  • 1 (14-oz.) can stewed tomatoes, with juice

  • 2 C frozen sliced okra

  • 4 green onions, sliced, white and green parts

  • 1/2 lb. small shrimp, peeled, deveined and cooked

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken until browned on both sides and remove. Add the sausage and cook until browned, then remove. Sprinkle the flour over the oil, add 2 T margarine and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until brown, about 10 minutes. Let the roux cool.

Return the Dutch oven to low heat and melt the remaining 3 T margarine. Add the onion, garlic, green pepper and celery and cook for 10 minutes. Add Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper, to taste and 1/4 bunch parsley. Cook, while stirring frequently for 10 minutes. Add 4 C hot water and bouillon cubes, whisking constantly. Add the chicken and sausage. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Add tomatoes and okra. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Just before serving, add the green onions, shrimp and chopped parsley.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Host

The HostThe Host by Stephenie Meyer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Take those four stars with a grain of salt. The grain of salt being that I would have given this three and a half stars if I could have, but that is not an option, so I rounded up.


Stephenie Meyer's The Host intrigued me to the point where I did block out time to read, but then the story wrapped up too cleanly. This is coming from a person who happens to like happy endings, and seeks escape when reading.

I thoroughly enjoyed the premise of the story—aliens, a.k.a. "souls" have taken over most of Earth. There is of course, a pocket of resistance, but it's really the human spirit that prevails. My problems entirely lie with the very neat dénouement. The conflict resolution can be summed up as everyone, and I mean everyone had their own happy-ever-after.

It was just too clean! I kept waiting for the Seeker to find them, but she just ended up being captured by the human rebels. And then they saved her?! I find it all to be a little incredulous.

But, it was an interesting read, and I liked it a lot more than I thought I would. I have actually had this book in my possession for at least a year, and I dragged my feet on reading it. After all, this book is Ms. Meyer's follow-up to my beloved Twilight Saga, and I was quite worried that I would hate it. It turns out that I did not hate or dislike The Host in the least bit. In fact, I liked that she spent so much time focused on the life Wanda/Mel. I just wish there had been a little bit more conflict.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Baby Quilt

There's also been some sewing going on lately, and here is a baby blanket I recently finished. I even hand-quilted it.

Most of the fabric is from Jo-Ann Fabrics & Craft, but the football print is from Bolt's End in Castro Valley.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Johnny Flynn Came to San Francisco

In the four-plus years that Seth and I have been together, there has been exactly one artist that I played for him that he: A)Didn't know about; and B)Really liked. That artist is Johnny Flynn, a British musician of the folk rock/indie rock genre; and frontman of the band Johnny Flynn & The Sussex Wit.

Last night, Seth and I finally got to see Johnny Flynn perform live, and it was so very cool. He played a solo show at The Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco. As the headliner, he didn't go on until 11:00 p.m., after Cheyenne Marie Mize and Goh Nakamura. It was a bit tough getting motivated to get there on a Sunday night, but it was worth every sleepy moment I dragged through today.

The venue was perfect. As one of my friends said, The Rickshaw Stop is "very hipster" and it provided just the right atmosphere. It is an 18 and over place, but that made for a pretty empty bar scene, and it was quite easy to get a pint of Speak Easy IPA. In such a relaxed, intimate atmosphere, with a British musician about to take the stage, how can you get anything but a pint of beer? By the way, there is also a full bar.

The opening acts were easy on the ears, and I really enjoyed Cheyenne Mize's performance. Her voice is quite nice, but not unique to me. Then she broke out the violin and the banjo. I was sold.

Just before Cheyenne's performance I decided to go downstairs and find the bathroom. It was a good thing I did, because when I walked by the bar I noticed that a young blond man was selling stuff. The young blond man was Johnny Flynn himself, hawking is own CDs and t-shirts. Of course I jumped in line before I headed back upstairs, and Seth joined me so that we could buy the new CD, Been Listening, get it autographed and take a quick picture.

Johnny Flynn is such a nice guy. Okay, and he's good looking. He was patient with all the fans—even the girl who locked onto his arm and gushed "Oh my gosh, I can't believe I'm touching you!" She looked like she might gobble him up right there.

All right on to the performance.

It was amazing. Seth and I didn't quite know what to expect because part of what makes the A Larum album so good is the band, and we knew they wouldn't be there. I'm glad we got to see Johnny Flynn perform on his own. He has such a rich voice for someone of smallish stature (he's not super tiny, but he's not a big guy either), and he is fantastic on the guitar. Cheyenne Mize performed with him at one point, but most of the songs were done by Johnny on his own. He sang stuff from the new album, and he did my favorite song, Brown Trout Blues. Unfortunately for Seth, there was no guitar-only rendition of Leftovers, but we understood that perhaps there's just too much of the band in in that one.

I hope that one of these days we can see the whole band perform, but I think we might need to go to Europe for that kind of show.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Sewing Questions Not Yet Answered

A little over a year ago, I blogged about the struggles I had with using using double fold bias tape to make a square neckline. Included were some tutorial-type photos because I could not find step-by-step instructions on the internet.

You have no idea how pleased I have been to see that it's been helpful for other sewers.

Sorry, I just had to say that because I appreciate all the comments people have left for me. Which leads me to today's post.

The following two comments were left for me in October:
    I am a 13 yo. seamstress, and I like to sew jumpers. I made one, (with a square neckline), and it turned out fine. Then, I made another with the same pattern, (I made the pattern) , and I ended up with funny wrinkles at the corners. Where did I go wrong? The first time I used cotton/denim, and the next I used 100% cotton material... Any tips?? Thanks!
    October 21, 2010 11:04 AM

    How do you do corners without getting scrunchy? also- how do you thread and use a serger? Could you write a post about that? Thank you!!
    October 21, 2010 8:23 PM

I'm sorry it's taken me so long to respond, but I've been a bit busy lately, and I also haven't really been able to come up with what I think is a suitable answer to either question.

In answer to the "funny wrinkles" and "corners without getting scrunchy" questions—I have another question. Do you have any photos of these wrinkles and scrunches? It would help me if you could send me photos (please reference the blog in your subject line). I don't think it was the material you were using since both are made out of cotton. My guess is that you somehow pinched the fabric under the bias tape, or that fabric was pinched at the "v" part.

And now we've arrived at how to thread a serger.

How did you know that it's been more than a decade since I've actually used a serger? We had a serger at my grandma's house, and I remember failing miserably at trying to re-thread it. The first place I learned to use a serger was in Mrs. Iki's sewing class, and we never changed the thread without just tying the two colors together and letting the machine stitch until the new color was threaded all the way through. The best I can do is share with you two Google finds:

Thanks for asking the questions. I do wish I could give you better answers, but send me some photos and I'll see if any of my resources can provide more help. And you know, my photographer of a sister was actually the one who was better with a sewing machine. Yes, that's right before there was Mindy Metivier Photography, there was a seamstress who made a lot of clothes.

Monday, November 1, 2010

I've Been Knitting

Here's a bunch of stuff I recently finished for my sister. Most of the pieces are cocoons, and hopefully they work for her photo shoots, and the babies are snug. There is one blanket square mixed in.

A cocoon in pumpkin.

A cocoon in yellow.

A cocoon in fig. In person, the yarn looks a little darker than it does in this photo.

The blanket square. This one is already in Hawaii. The other pieces will soon be on their way.